When the next European Athletics Indoor Championships are held in Belgrade in two years’ time it is not difficult to guess who will be the face of the championships. Ivana Spanovic came to Prague with a robust CV including silver from last year’s outdoor European Athletics Championships in Zurich but she had yet to seal her reputation with major championships title.
Well, in the O2 Arena she did just that with a nerveless performance in the long jump to drape gold around her neck.
“I am very happy with gold and a new national record,” she said. “But it would have been nice to have rounded off this performance with a seven metre jump.
“But this is not the end, but just one more step in my career. Let’s continue to push the boundaries,” she told the press.
It all came together with a terrific jump in the third, just one centimetre to spare on the board as she hit the sand at 6.98m and gold was hers as well as a new national record. Two more efforts of 6.89m and 6.81m confirmed a remarkable series.
In some ways, the winners of both men’s and women’s long jump competitions share some similarity. Like Michel Torneus, Spanovic had picked up several medals in recent years but needed gold to confirm her status.
She is now in the interesting position of possessing an indoor mark that is far superior to her outdoor record. Last summer in Eugene she went out to 6.88m so there is plenty to work on there.
Just as nerveless as his athlete was coach Goran Obradovic who was watching events unfold on television back home in Serbia. He was confident of the outcome:
“Everything was exactly as we expected. It was an absolutely superb competition. Maybe some people are more concerned that Ivana did not clear seven metres but the important thing is to win and have the title of European champion.”
It is the coach who puts Spanovic through her paces back home in Novi Sad where training sessions can last anywhere between one and five hours: “Training does not end until we are happy with the way I jump,” explains Spanovic.
But now she can celebrate and look forward to the rest of the season:
“It is a good start to 2015,” she said. “My main goal here was to jump over 6.90 and I could not be happier. Now my only focus is on seven metres.”